If you’re a digital photographer, and been shooting photos of friends and family, and at music events, then no doubt you’ve most likely been asked if you do video as well. If that’s the case, or if you want to expand your skills into video recording, then this beginners guide to video recording is for you.

It’s most likely that the camera you already have, whether that’s a DSLR, Mirrorless or compact, is fully capable of being used for video recording. Long gone are the days of having to use a completely different camera or camcorder for video recording.

Nb. Check your camera make and model, and check online reviews to see what video features your camera has.

Welcome to the AP Improve Your Photography Series – in partnership with MPB – This series is designed to take you from the beginnings of photography, introduce different shooting skills and styles, and teach you how to grow as a photographer, so you can enjoy producing amazing photography (and video), to take you to the next level, whether that’s making money or simply mastering your art form.

Improve your photography from AP and MPB

Each week you’ll find a new article so make sure to come back to continue your journey, and have fun along the way, creating great images. If you’ve found these articles helpful, don’t forget to share them with people you know who may be interested in learning new photography skills. You’ll find a whole range of further articles in this series.

Here are the main things you need to know about video recording:

Video Resolution

The majority of cameras will offer at least FullHD video recording (1920×1080 pixels) and with an aspect ratio of 16:9. This gives good enough quality for the majority of recordings and productions on YouTube, with even some of the biggest YouTube stars sticking with FullHD video, MrBeast, we’re looking at you.

Common video resolutions:

  • FullHD, 1080p, 1920×1080 pixels (16:9)
  • 4K UHD, 3840×2160 pixels (16:9)
  • 4K CINE / DCI, 4120×2160 pixels (17:9)
  • 5.7K: 5744×3024 (17:9)
  • 6K: 6144×3456
  • 8K, 7680×4320

A note on video recording and resolution – after you’ve recorded your footage, you’ll need to edit your videos. If you have an “average” PC or laptop, then editing 4K or higher resolution can be a very slow process, and depending on how good your computer is, may even be next to impossible to edit. So, if you’re just starting out, and don’t have a high-spec computer, then it may be worth starting with FullHD video while you get to grips with everything.

Higher resolution video recorded at 4K (and above) can be useful if you want to crop into the footage, or reframe the shot, for example if you then produce FullHD video from the 4K footage. However, the video files use much more space on a memory card, and computer, and therefore can be more difficult to edit.

Canon EOS R7 - in the video mode you get a range of useful on-screen information, AP, JW

Canon EOS R7 – in the video mode you get a range of useful on-screen information, AP, JW

Frame Rates – What frame rate should I use?

The next thing you’ll need to decide, is what frame rate to use. For the majority of videos, 25fps (frame per second) is a perfect choice. Almost all cameras will offer 25fps video, whilst others will offer this, as well as 24fps, or faster speed such as 50/60fps. If you do want to slow down your footage, then using a faster frame rate, such as 50/60fps can be useful, as you’ll be able to playback the footage at half the speed.

Stabilisation is key!

Recording stable footage can be one of the key factors in whether your footage looks professional or unwatchable. It can make a massive difference when it comes to whether someone wants to watch your videos. If your camera doesn’t have a very good in-body image stabilisation (IBIS) system, then we’d recommend the use of a tripod, monopod, or a gimbal so that you can record smooth and steady footage.

The Zhiyun WEEBILL 3 gimbal in use

The Zhiyun WEEBILL 3 gimbal in use

Focus is important!

Along with stable footage, ensuring your video is correctly focused (and the main subject is in focus, and stays in focus) is another key factor in making sure your footage looks professional.

Depending on the camera you are using, it may have a very good autofocus (AF) system that works well while recording video. However, if it doesn’t, then you might want to check your focus settings, and fix focus when you start recording (as long as your subject doesn’t move), or alternatively use manual focus and adjust when needed. Some cameras let you fix focus, and then adjust while recording, using the touch-screen – just be careful that the camera doesn’t pick up the noise of you touching the screen if you do use this feature.

Exposure in video

There are other settings that can affect how your video looks, including aperture, the ISO speed used (lower is generally better), and shutter speed. Almost everything you learnt in our guide to exposure regarding aperture, ISO speed and shutter speeds applies to video recording. We’ve gone through shutter speed below, as this is something to be aware of.

Shutter speed

As a general rule of thumb you want to ensure your shutter speed is twice the frame rate (fps), so if you’re recording at 25fps, you want to make sure your shutter speed is 1/50 of a second, however, as with photography, the faster the shutter speed, the less light there is, so this is something to be aware of, particularly if recording video in low-light.

What shutter speed do I need for different frame rates?

  • 24fps – the shutter speed should be 1/48s
  • 25fps – the shutter speed should be 1/50s
  • 50fps – the shutter speed should be 1/100s
  • 60fps – the shutter speed should be 1/120s

Audio quality is important!

If you’re lucky, your camera with have a great set of built-in microphones that sound amazing, but unfortunately most of the time you will need to add something to them to improve the quality.

If you’re outside, then a wind “muff” or “dead-cat” can help reduce wind noise, or an external microphone will be needed so you can clearly pick up someone’s voice. Check if your camera has a microphone socket, and then you can simply plug in an external microphone.

Unlike when taking a photo – you can’t just use Photoshop to fix it later – and trying to fix audio problems later can be a real nightmare, or even impossible. For this reason, it’s also recommended that you use headphones (or earphones) to check the audio quality while recording, and this is where a headphone socket on your camera becomes essential.

The Rode VideoMic Go II hotshoe mic weighs just 89g

The Rode VideoMic Go II hotshoe mic weighs just 89g

If you want to master audio on your video, have a look at our guide to mastering audio for video

How do I record entertaining videos?

That’s the million-dollar question, of course, and can be the difference between 20 views or 2000 views. But one thing we would say, is that if you’re passionate about something, then that is a great start, record what you know, and be inspired by other people’s videos to see what works and what doesn’t work.

It can be useful, and is always a good idea to record more video footage than you need. By recording additional clips, known as B-Roll (What is B-roll footage? – Adobe) you can use these to cover up any mistakes made in key footage (known as A-Roll).

Editing video 

Once you’ve recorded your video, you’ll then have a number of video files (normally ending in .mp4, or .mov). You’ll need to use software on your computer to bring those video files together and edit them to create one video file, which you can the upload to video sharing sites like YouTube, Vimeo, TikTok etc.

Making cuts in DaVinci Resolve 18

Making cuts in DaVinci Resolve 18

How do I edit video?

To edit video, you’ll need to use some video editing software. These let you put several different video files (or clips) together, cut out any unwanted scenes or mistakes, as well as add different titles and effects to the video, as needed.

Here are some of the most popular video editing packages available:

  • Davinci Resolve – FREE
  • Adobe Premiere Elements – around £90
  • Adobe Premiere Pro – £19.97/month
  • Apple Mac: iMovie – FREE
  • Windows: Photo – includes FREE video editor

We’d recommend trying the free software that comes with your computer to begin with, as this can often do a reasonable job, and keeps things simple for beginners. Once you’ve got the hang of editing video files into one file, and find you want to do more with your video, then Davinci Resolve is an excellent choice, particularly as it’s free, and offers advanced controls.

Once you’ve completed your video, it’s time to share it! Whether that’s on Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo or TikTok, make sure you get the best results by sharing it with your friends, and ask anyone interested for feedback on what they thought. You’ll also be able to get feedback from people who watch the video from reading the comments left. Good luck!

Have a look at our video section for more great hints, tips, and how-to articles on video, plus have a look at our guide to vlogging. Find the best cameras for video, vlogging and YouTube

Tune in next week, for the next article in the series of the AP Improve Your Photography Series – in partnership with MPB.

Find the latest Improve Your Photography articles here.

Lead Photo by Vanilla Bear Films on Unsplash

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